As if it were a novel series, the biggest corruption plot from Brazil involves a senior Venezuelan official, nothing less than the national head of state. But the Prosecutor's Office is silent. Although distanced from the government, Luisa Ortega Díaz ignored the issue, despite the fact that her counterparts had already notified her about the case.
Nicolás Maduro himself handed over US$ 11 million under the table for the last re-election campaign of former President Hugo Chávez. The famous Brazilian publicists, Joao Santana and Mónica Moura, had already warned that the Lava Jato case involved Chavismo's electoral financing, but their statements - filtered yesterday by the Brazilian justice - go further now; they involve the Venezuelan president in the lava jato case, the biggest corruption plot that involves all Latin American countries.
In exchange for procedural benefits, last year’s February publicist Joao Santana —the brain of Chávez's electoral campaigns, among other Latin American leaders— confessed with his wife, Mónica Moura, that they charged US$ 35 million to develop the electoral propaganda of the deceased President Chávez. Back then it was already a scandal that the campaign was run by the Brazilian giant Odebrecht in exchange for special contracts. But there is more now of what has been a novel series. The Brazilian justice said that the publicists warned in their statements that the irregular payments also involved the then Venezuelan chancellor, Nicolás Maduro.
Two Brazilian constructors contributed 12 out of the 35 million U.S. dollars of the publicists: Odebrecht transferred $ 7 million while Andrade Gutiérrez deposited another $ 5 million in a Swiss account through the front company Shellbill Finance SA. There were 12 million that were owed of which there are no details, while the remaining 11 million came out in cash from the Venezuelan Chancery. "Maduro received Mónica in his office, gave her briefcases of money and provided an escort for security during the trip from the chancery to the producer," as indicated in the documents that the Supreme Court of Brazil recently declassified.
This is the first time that a senior Venezuelan official appears in the corruption plot of the so-called Lava Jato operation, and it is nothing less than the head of state of the nation. The Peruvian justice imputed former presidents Ollanta Humala and Alejandro Toledo, while there have been reports in the rest of the region that splash presidents, from Colombia’s Álvaro Uribe and Panama’s Ricardo Martinelli to the current presidents of Argentina, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama: Mauricio Macri, Danilo Medina, Juan Manuel Santos and Juan Carlos Valera, respectively.
In Venezuela, the Public Prosecutor's Office has not pronounced itself despite the fact that the Brazilian Attorney General's Office submitted the information through regular channels, as recorded in the minutes of file No. 105118/2017, published yesterday with the signature of its top holder, Rodrigo Janiot. Although the Prosecutor of the Republic, Luisa Ortega Díaz, has distanced herself from Maduro's government, she has never charged him or any other official with the corruption of Odebrecht and the other contractors who paid bribes in exchange for the best contracts. She did not do it in February, after traveling to Brasilia to meet with those in charge of investigating the case, and she has not done so in these days in which she has denounce a rupture of the constitutional thread in Venezuela.
However, the story should have arrived in her office long before yesterday, when she finally warned how the illegal financing of Chavez's last campaign began. Lula was the first to ask publicist Joao Santana to develop the reelection campaign of his comrade Chávez , for which he involved one of his closest collaborators, minister José Dirceu, and the Venezuela’s ambassador in Brasilia, Maximilien Arveláiz, today turned into a Hollywood producer with the film of Snowden, whom Moura pointed out as " Hugo Chávez main articulator and guarantor in Brazil. "
Weeks later, they met in Caracas, in Palacio de Miraflores (the presidential residence), where they closed a business of which no proofs should exist. Moura said, "Chancellor Nicolás Maduro demanded that most of the payments related to the campaign be received as undeclared resources." He should never have thought that the then advisors and publicists would become the informers five years later.
(*) This is an issue of the network of structured journalists, who covered and published simultaneously in IDL-Reporteros, in Peru, La Prensa de Panamá, and Armando.info in Venezuela.
Adrián Perdomo Mata has just entered the list of sanctioned entities of the US Department of the Treasury, as president of Minerven, the state company in charge of exploring, exporting and processing precious metals, particularly gold from the Guayana mines. His arrival in office coincided with the boom in exports of Venezuelan gold to new destinations, like Turkey, to finance food imports. Behind these secretive operations is the shadow of Alex Saab and Álvaro Pulido, the main beneficiaries of the sales of food for the Local Supply and Production Committee (Clap). Perdomo worked with them before Nicolás Maduro placed him in charge of the Venezuelan gold.
Gassan Salama, a Palestinian-cause activist, born in Colombia and naturalized Panamanian, frequently posts messages supporting the Cuban and Bolivarian revolutions on his social media accounts. But that leaning is not the main sign to doubt his impartiality as an observer of the elections in Venezuela, a role he played in the contested elections whereby Nicolás Maduro ratified himself as president. In fact, Salama, an entrepreneur and politician who has carried out controversial searches for submarine wrecks in Caribbean waters, found his true treasure in the main social aid and control program of Chavismo, the Clap, for which he receives millions of euros.
While the key role of Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Saab Morán and Álvaro Pulido Vargas in the import scheme of Nicolás Maduro’s Government program has come to light, almost nothing has been said about the participation of the traders who act as suppliers from Mexico. These are economic groups that, even before doing business with Venezuela, were not alien to public controversy.
Even though there are new brands, a new physical-chemical analysis requested by Armando.Info to UCV researchers shows that the milk powder currently distributed through the Venezuelan Government's food aid program, still has poor nutritional performance that jeopardizes the health of those who consume it. In the meantime, a mysterious supplier manages to monopolize the increasing imports and sales from Mexico to Venezuela.
Turkey and the coastal emirates of the Arabian Peninsula are now the homes of companies that supply the main social -and clientelist- program of the Government of Venezuela. Although the move from Mexico and Hong Kong, seems geographically epic, the companies has not changed hands. They are still owned by Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Nain Saab Morán and Álvaro Pulido Vargas, who control since 2016 a good part of the Import of food financed with public funds. Around the world for a business.
Since the borders to Colombia and Brazil are packed and there is minimal access to foreign currency to reach other desirable destinations, crossing to Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most accessible routes for those in distress seeking to flee Venezuela. Relocating them is the business of the 'coyotes' who are based in the states of Sucre or Delta Amacuro, while cheating them is that of the boatmen, fishermen, smugglers and security forces that haunt them.
When Vice President Delcy Rodríguez turned to a group of Mexican friends and partners to lessen the new electricity emergency in Venezuela, she laid the foundation stone of a shortcut through which Chavismo and its commercial allies have dodged the sanctions imposed by Washington on PDVSA’s exports of crude oil. Since then, with Alex Saab, Joaquín Leal and Alessandro Bazzoni as key figures, the circuit has spread to some thirty countries to trade other Venezuelan commodities. This is part of the revelations of this joint investigative series between the newspaper El País and Armando.info, developed from a leak of thousands of documents.
Leaked documents on Libre Abordo and the rest of the shady network that Joaquín Leal managed from Mexico, with tentacles reaching 30 countries, ―aimed to trade PDVSA crude oil and other raw materials that the Caracas regime needed to place in international markets in spite of the sanctions― show that the businessman claimed to have the approval of the Mexican government and supplies from Segalmex, an official entity. Beyond this smoking gun, there is evidence that Leal had privileged access to the vice foreign minister for Latin America and the Caribbean, Maximiliano Reyes.
The business structure that Alex Saab had registered in Turkey—revealed in 2018 in an article by Armando.info—was merely a false start for his plans to export Venezuelan coal. Almost simultaneously, the Colombian merchant made contact with his Mexican counterpart, Joaquín Leal, to plot a network that would not only market crude oil from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, as part of a maneuver to bypass the sanctions imposed by Washington, but would also take charge of a scheme to export coal from the mines of Zulia, in western Venezuela. The dirty play allowed that thousands of tons, valued in millions of dollars, ended up in ports in Mexico and Central America.
As part of their business network based in Mexico, with one foot in Dubai, the two traders devised a way to replace the operation of the large international credit card franchises if they were to abandon the Venezuelan market because of Washington’s sanctions. The developed electronic payment system, “Paquete Alcance,” aimed to get hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances sent by expatriates and use them to finance purchases at CLAP stores.
Scions of different lineages of tycoons in Venezuela, Francisco D’Agostino and Eduardo Cisneros are non-blood relatives. They were also partners for a short time in Elemento Oil & Gas Ltd, a Malta-based company, over which the young Cisneros eventually took full ownership. Elemento was a protagonist in the secret network of Venezuelan crude oil marketing that Joaquín Leal activated from Mexico. However, when it came to imposing sanctions, Washington penalized D’Agostino only… Why?
Through a company registered in Mexico – Consorcio Panamericano de Exportación – with no known trajectory or experience, Joaquín Leal made a daring proposal to the Venezuelan Guyana Corporation to “reactivate” the aluminum industry, paralyzed after March 2019 blackout. The business proposed to pay the power supply of state-owned companies in exchange for payment-in-kind with the metal.